April Showers Brings May Flowers?

Perhaps you can't tell from the picture, but it is oppressively hot as well as engulfed in a sandstorm in the 'hood

I smell it in the air.  I taste it in my mouth.  It swirls around my feet... Yes, I just woke up this Monday morning to another sandstorm... Fortunately FaceBook Oracle told me all about it in advance as many friends in UAE & Saudi were already posting about the impending arrival here of another sandstorm. Thus meaning that I managed to close all windows before the storm hit... I don't usually manage to do that so I feel I'm already winning.  This year we've been getting hit by quite a few.  I don't remember this happening last year- at least with this frequency and intensity.

Speaking of intensity... I'm headed to the Formula One races this weekend here in Zallaq!  Again this year a friend is working the circuit so giving up his tickets to us :)  Again this year I do not have binoculars... Fortunately they are pretty decent seats situated above and near the 1st bend in the track. We saw some good action last year from those seats.  Not that the races themselves isn't thrilling enough, but the people watching is equally entertaining.  I mean, you see jewel-encrusted people there.  You see thobes with diamond cuff-links.  You see abayas dripping in Swarovsky crystals.  You also see a lot of normal looking peeps too... You will also see Starr, Dot and myself!  Hopefully the sandstorm session will be over.  Did I mention that Pitbull will be djing?  I'm looking forward to that as I'm a kinda-fan...

Last Thursday- that was the day. That was the day that the weather 'broke'. It was a definite feeling of the rise of temperature.  It seemingly went from high 70s to high 90s overnight. Everybody noticed it and talked of it.  I held off with the air conditioning until Saturday evening... Now, though, air con will be a constant I fear.  This is how the rest of my time in the Middle East will be spent- going from one air con environment to another air con environment, etc.

I managed to get back in my yoga routine at BaYoga. Just going inside that humble yoga shala makes me realize how much I will miss it.  It's such an easy vibe and no one is there to babble about yoga, etc.  Everyone is just into their practice, and then they leave.  Although, this past week I noticed some new people and a few in particular kept talking.  There is a point in class where there is kind of a little break and our teacher walks around and gives us adjustments, etc. Usually if you opt out, or don't take them, you just sit in meditation or Child's Pose, etc.  These girls decided it was time to talk-story as if they were at a cafe or something.  I don't know, but I thought it was incredibly rude.  Perhaps they just don't understand that yoga isn't simply an 'exercise' but a deepening of development to quiet the mind, as well as the body.  I let it temporarily affect me, but then I decided that I needed to become unaware of it and just let it go.  I guess I decided to turn the situation into a lesson for myself in my own personal development of quieting my own mind! 

I am amazed though as Friday morning class is always full, but on Saturday mornings sometimes I'm the only one or there is one other person.  This Saturday there was another guy and myself. I always enjoy this class as instruction is so personalized.  I hadn't seen him before, but he looks like he will be a regular and is pretty dedicated to his practice. Our teacher had us strike up some rather complex asanas that took some mental/physical preparations to gear up for.  At one point my mind tried to take over.  I said, "Abelish I can't do this pose today", as I fell over. He did not falter for a moment.  He simply waited (signaling me that I was going to try again) and casually said something to the effect of, "Yes you can.  Don't tell yourself you can't."  What happened next?  I nailed the asana- right before I tilted over again!  It was Pigeon Pose variation(s) that looked like this:

It's amazing how one's mind can control one's body.  You don't even realize it and live your life like this.  I'm being dramatic, but to express my point.  It just hit home for me that my mind was resisting what my body could fully do, and I don't know why.  I don't know why both my mind and body weren't working in unison to bring me happiness.  Why did it take someone else to tell ME I could do it?  Well, that is a cerebral question with a cerebral answer... The lesson (re)learned is that you can do a lot, but you have to train your mind.  This is what a lot of people don't realize about yoga.  You are training your mind as well as your body.  It is discipline.  It is intense.  It is light-hearted.  It is the union of body and mind- yoga.

I  remember being burnt out on yoga a few years back- when I was still back home on Maui.  It wasn't the practice, but the perception of yoga that was starting to annoy me.  I kept hearing in many different classes with different instructors stuff like, "Keep it yummy" or "Doesn't that feel delicious", etc.  There was always this talk of 'heart-felt', etc.  I mean, yes okay but do we have to talk about it.  we KNOW it.  I just felt like so much superficial talking was going on.  I just wanted to deepen my practice and to do it in a group setting.  There was only one instructor that gave me this peace of mind where I could just be.  I could drown out all sounds and have my practice. This was at the House of Yoga and Zen.  Perhaps it's because of the nature of Ashtanga Yoga itself in that it is a specific routine that one flows though holding each pose for only 5 seconds.  You flow so fluidly that there is no time to let the mind wander, in my humble opinion.  As well, there is a way to channel one's energy into the body and give up the mind.  There simply isn't enough time for the mind and body to communicate together (meaning that the mind has no time to try to convince the body that something can't be accomplished).  I don't know, but it was at this point that I realized I needed to explore a deeper practice on my own.  I say this because I could not practice Ashtanga every day- as is needed with that branch of yoga- because I was always up early and working archaeology jobs on construction sites so couldn't make the 7am classes.  I could only make Sunday morning classes. 

That was also about the time that I moved to Tunisia so my practice had to go 'underground' so to speak.  Same thing as when I moved to Southeast Turkey.  I had to develop my own home practice, which is not an easy thing to do.  I still battle with it, and am fortunate enough here in Bahrain to have access to some great yoga classes.  It is freeing.  It is liberating.  I really missed the interaction of open classes- even though we are not necessarily interacting with each other during practice. At one point yesterday morning the teacher was adjusting Spencer and I was watching how he was adjusting (every yoga teacher is always fascinated with how another teacher gives adjustments) him.  We both caught eyes briefly and it was just a pleasant exchange.  That is all.  He was nailing the pose and I was excited and he was feeling elated I could tell.  It was just a tiny moment of sharing something together yet totally separate.

My friend Angie had friends visiting from North Carolina this past week so they had a full fun-packed schedule of events that I tagged along with for some.  Probably the highlight though was finding Farheen- an Indian woman originally from Bombay that lives here and does a kick-ass job of henna application, as well as teach yoga!  I'll check out her yoga classes soon enough, but I am really impressed with her henna designs.  She does it at her house and is just a wonderful person with a sweet vibe.  There were 5 of us so it was a full evening of henna, food and talk-story.  My kinda evening indeed.

Here I am at my beach after yoga class on Saturday reading my book.  Yes, I'm the only person 'on the beach' in terms of a towel on the sand... A beach culture Bahrain is not!!!
a traditional Bahraini-weaved basket I got from a cool old man at the Capital Mall Artisan Collective.  He gave me a bunch of freshly-picked sprigs of basil.  Smelled delightful! Oh, also my beloved Alfonso Mangoes- which are to-die-for

I'll end with some other pictures of various hoods in Bahrain that I frequent and find fascinating

This is towards South Sehla. This hood holds lots of "BBQs"

This is in Al Hajer.  I go through here to take a short-cut to get back on the freeway when I want to avoid Budaiya Highway

The pet store where I get catfood is nearby to here

On the way to Starr's villa- in Al Hajer village.  I really like this village

an unfinished mosque in Al Hajer.  It seems work was stopped on it a few years ago, right after work started on it...

By the way, April showers are non-existent here in the Middle East...